World football fans have been looking forward to this game since Robin van Persie completed his £24 million move to Manchester United this summer.
The return, part one. For the first time, Arsene Wenger will face up to the Dutchman as an enemy, whilst simultaneously trying to avenge the demons of his side's 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford last season.
Coming off the back of a 30-goal season, RvP was many an Arsenal fan's hero. His deafening silence during the close season and throughout the European Championships had Gunners fans on the edge of their seats, until this sickening blow:
"As announced earlier this year I had a meeting with the Boss and Mr. Gazidis after the season. This was a meeting about the club’s future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed, since that is not my priority at all.
"Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
"I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions." - The Telegraph
Four months on and these words are far from forgotten. Although the atmosphere won't be as hostile as the fixture set to take place at the Emirates stadium next year, Arsene Wenger is rightly attempting to mediate from the very start.
"I hope it [reception] is a respectful one because he did very well for us [for eight years].
"I think the fans will recognise the eight years he gave them and it will be nice.
"I am not surprised by how well he [Van Persie] is doing. At Manchester United you have good players around him, and Robin is very intelligent around the box - his runs are fantastic and his technique is absolutely amazing." - Wenger (via BBC Sport).
The contrast of fortunes between RvP and his replacements is astounding.
While the Dutchman has recorded an impressive start to the campaign—seven goals from seven starts, tied for joint-top scorer in the league with Demba Ba—the Gunners have been sharing the load.
Gervinho heads the charts with three goals in seven starts, while Santiago Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski have all chipped in with two.
Summer signing Olivier Giroud, who was Ligue 1's top scorer last year, has managed just the one league goal in a slow adjustment to life in England.
It's no wonder Wenger reminisces about his former striking sensation.
Arsenal will likely revert to the usual defensive pairings on account of the five goals conceded at the Madejski stadium midweek.
Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen will be racking their brains to remember every single useful shred of information to help protect Vito Mannone from the Dutchman's ruthlessness in front of goal, while RvP will be looking to add to his impressive tally accrued so far.
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